‘Put your number plate on or walk’

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In a new “no nonsense” approach to traffic violations, Western Cape traffic officials will crack down on motorists who drive cars without number plates. Up until now these violations were only punished with a warning or a fine.

Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said on Sunday that any car on the road without number plates, either on the front, rear or both ends of the vehicle, would be “immediately discontinued”.

That would mean the car’s licence disc would be confiscated and the owner would be forced to complete a scheduled roadworthy test at one of the department’s centres before the car could be legally driven again.

Furthermore, motorists found violating traffic laws, such as speeding, while driving in a car without plates would be arrested on the spot.

This follows news that more than 2200 drivers were fined for speeding in the Western Cape this weekend.

According to Africa, the highest speed recorded was a that of a driver caught driving aon the N1 at 179km/h in a 120km/h zone.

But for every driver who was fined, Africa said, countless others escaped the consequences of reckless driving by removing their plates.

This also complicated hit and runs, as many drivers were untraceable because their cars had no plates.

“While we have had very few fatalities on our roads in the past two weeks, there are still far too many people taking chances on our roads.”

He said the new measures would either discourage motorists from driving without plates, or just take problem drivers off the roads.

Africa added that efforts to curb drunk driving had been successful. The national crime statistics recorded an overall 15 percent drop in drunken driving reports in the 2012/2013 financial year.

As the school holidays ended, Africa said there had been few crashes during what was usually a carnage-filled time on the roads.

NUMBERS DON’T LIE: TIME IS RUNNING OUT

Meanwhile, the CA licence plate pool is expected to run dry within the next two to three years and an alternative will have to be found.

Michael Gallant, director of traffic law administration in the provincial department of transport and public works, explained that the licence number system used in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal could not exceed a total of eight characters, including the combination of alpha and numeric characters. This means that the last available Cape Town licence plate will be CA999-999.

“In terms of the CA licence numbers the growth in vehicle population naturally contributes to the range running out.”

He said a similar situation occurred in 2003, when the available number sequences for the CFR licence plates were used up. When CFR99999 was reached, the licence numbers were changed to start with CF, formerly used for Grahamstown.

SECURE NUMBER PLATE

The department was monitoring the situation and has started investigating how best to manage the situation. He added the province was also looking at introducing a secure number plate that would make it more difficult to clone.

“Once the findings of the investigation have been evaluated all alternative solutions will be the subject of a full public consultation process before any amendments to the licence numbering system will be considered.”

In March, a secure licence-plate system, with a built-in security chip with the car owner’s details was shelved without explanation by the Gauteng department of transport. It would have reduced the number of cars with illegal plates by an estimated 10 to 15 percent.

The proposed alternatives for the CA licence plate would be put to the public for a full consultation process within the next six months, said Gallant. – Cape Argus

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